The Asheville area is home to dozens of mountain creameries, honoring the time-honed traditions of Appalachian artisanal cheese production. These farmstead cheese operations craft everything from savory chevre, to soft-ripened, to aged raw milk cheeses. Many of these dairy farms house their stock of goats, cows and sheep to ensure their milk source is sustainable and fresh. The resurgence of fine cheese production has ushered in a new era of southern decadence across the mountains.
While visiting the Asheville area make plans to visit one of the many cheesemaking operations in the area. The WNC Cheese Trail connects a number of creameries that are open to receiving visitors to their creamery. You can find a copy of this map in the Asheville Visitor Center as well as online.
Please make sure to check the acceptable days and hours to visit prior to making your journey. Many farms operate by appointment only so be sure to give them a call if you want to stop by.
Join the celebration of local cheese at Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest, to be held April 26, 2015 at Highland Brewing Company. Activities range educational sessions on cheesemaking and beverage pairing to family-friendly goat milking demonstrations and a chef's competition for the best grilled cheese sandwich. Visitors can also meet and sample cheese from 25 local and regional artisans. Learn more here.
Many WNC Cheese Trail farms will let you get hands on with their milk-bearing bovines and goats. Places like Hickory Nut Gap Farm offer tours of their operations as well as chances to pet the animals. Other places to get hands-on include the WNC Nature Center and the Farmyard at Biltmore's Antler Hill Village.
Every year you can tour a number of local farms during the ASAP Farm Tour. ASAP stands for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and they host this event each September. Self-guide your way through the fertile farmlands of Western North Carolina and get a chance to taste farm-fresh treats (including cheeses) and interact with the farm animals.
Many of the 250 independent restaurants that make up Asheville's culinary scene offer up samples of local cheeses. The cheese plate at The Market Place features amazing creations from Three Graces Dairy, Looking Glass Creamery and Spinning Spider Creamery. Or try the yummy Kale Manchego salad from Posana Café which features Three Graces as well (get the recipe here!).
Many local dairies participate in the 14 tailgate markets happening around Asheville each week. Sample the cheese before you buy and take a taste of Asheville home with you. Be sure to bring a cooler to keep your cheese fresh for the ride home.Cheesemakers Jennifer & Andy Perkins
Visit the French Broad Food Co-op or stop in to local grocery chains like Greenlife Grocery or Earth Fare to find cheese from mountain dairies. You can also find cheese at local delis and neighborhood markets like Fresh Quarter, located inside the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. Or catch up with the mobile Cheese Store of Asheville at a pop-up event to taste a wide variety of Asheville-area cheeses, meats, jams and crackers.
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